The best way to get new business customers in 2023
What is content marketing?
Why content is essential for a successful B2B digital marketing strategy?
The step-by-step process
How to develop a B2B digital marketing strategy for your business
digital directorCreative Tweed
As a B2B company, your marketing success hinges on your ability to create and promote high quality content.
This is by no means an oversimplification. Content is literally everything.
In this guide we’ll break down exactly why content marketing is the ultimate B2B digital marketing strategy and show you how you can implement it in your own business to attract more website visitors, enquiries and sales.
Content marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on creating and distributing valuable content to a clearly defined audience.
It looks to get the attention of your market, build trust and ultimately drive profitable customer action.
It’s not bombarding people with sales pitches.
Content marketing is the anti-sell. The invisible sales machine.
It looks to foster a connection with your target audience and provide them with value.
Instead of pitching your B2B services, you are providing relevant and useful information to your prospects and customers to help them solve their problems.
And let’s be honest, good quality content is at the heart of any marketing efforts.
Think about it, content is the backbone of any marketing activity you want to perform.
47% of buyers still view 3 to 5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative.
Businesses with blogs tend to get 67% more leads than those who don’t have a blog.
Inbound marketing close rates are still 8 to 10 times higher compared to those of outbound efforts.
Content marketing is a great strategy for both B2C and B2B businesses. The main differences lie with the buyer journey length and the channels used for promotion.
With B2C, the path between brand discovery and purchase is normally straight forward and relatively quick.
For B2B, a prospects journey from first hearing about a product or service to becoming a customer can take weeks, months or even longer.
B2B services are not throw away consumables. They tend to be higher-vale purchases delivered over longer periods of time.
For this reason, clients need to feel confident that they are making the right decision.
This is why content marketing is such an effective strategy for B2B.
Use this framework to map out an entire year’s worth of strategic content and website pages to help drive more traffic, leads and sales for your business.
Let’s look at it another way. In some ways, marketing is much like dating. There are a series of steps and events that must take place in order for a relationship to develop and get more serious.
Business is much the same. However, most businesses are out there asking people to marry them on the first date, or even worse, at first sight!
An old approach to new business, especially within the B2B community was networking.
Lunches or after work drinks. If you did find this method worked for you I doubt you tried to sell someone the first time you met them.
No, you’d chat. Maybe exchange cards. Follow up with them via email. Then another meeting and then, once a relationship of trust was in place, you might show them your capability statement or a case study from a successful project.
The point is there was a right time and place for each step of the journey.
Different bits of information were needed before the person you meet at the event was ready to take the next step.
It’s a nurturing process. A sequence. You build credibility, establish yourself as an authority on your subject. Once they know, like and trust you – and their a good fit for your offer – you’re ready to close the deal.
Content marketing is very similar, the difference is it uses content and technology to implement this technique at scale.
No longer one-to-one but one-to-many.
No longer constrained by your time, content marketing works for you when you’re asleep.
You create evergreen assets that deliver for your business time and time again, long after the publication date.
The other benefits to B2B are also huge but more on those later.
For now, we want to focus on how content marketing works for B2B business.
Let’s get something straight. The one thing you absolutely do not want to do is create content for the sake of creating content.
In fact, this is the biggest mistake we see a lot of businesses make. Taking the approach: “others are doing it so we should too”.
The problem with this is there is no strategy behind it. The content leads to deadends and little thought has been given to what happens next.
There’s also no way to measure its success so you never really know if the time and resources invested in your content production are worth it.
Producing content without purpose is just a waste of time and resources and if you’re doing this you should stop immediately.
You see there is a difference between content and strategic content.
A big difference.
Strategic content starts with the end goal in mind. That means if the end goal is new business customers, we need to work backwards from this goal and determine what steps a prospect needs to go through to get to that point and then build a bridge for them to get there.
How to use content to take someone from “who the f#@k are you?” to buyer and raving fan.
Imagine your ideal customer is on one side of a giant canyon.
You are on the other side with the remedy to their problem.
But there’s a catch…there is no bridge. No way for them to get to you.
In fact, the canyon is so big they can’t even see you yet.
Content marketing is what we use to build the bridge for the prospect to walk across.
The first thing we’d need to do is get their attention.
To do this you really need to have a deep understanding of your market and who your ideal customer is.
We’re not talking about demographics here, we’re talking psychographics. You need to know what their needs, wants and desires are. More than that you need to understand what their big problems are. What challenges they face and what they fear.
A good way to do this is to list out your market’s problems (pain points), roadblocks and questions.
From here you can create content that targets these pain points. The key here is to deliver value.
You’re not trying to pitch your product or service, not yet. The prospects never met you before.
What you are trying to do is provide useful information that will give your audience a new way to think about their problem or a way to navigate a roadblock they’ve been facing.
The goal here is not acquisition. The goal is awareness, website traffic and to position yourself as the trusted expert.
“the aim of marketing is to know the customer so well that the product or service fits them perfectly and sells itself”
Now that we have their attention, we want them to reach out their hand so we can guide them across the bridge.
That’s why the aim of the second step in B2B content marketing is all about lead generation.
We want to capture the prospects’ details so we can nurture them and continue to build trust.
The underlying principle that will move your market to a place of buy-in is belief. Belief that they can get results. Belief that you can help them do it.
So how do we get the prospects’ details?
Earlier we spoke about creating strategic content that doesn’t have deadends. A good way to do this is by providing your prospect with a hyper specific next-step offer.
For example, you’re in corporate finance and you’ve produced a detailed piece of content for company owners looking to sell their business. It’s all about how to prepare for a successful business exit.
A good next step offer would be an evaluation tool that would let them work out how much their company might be worth.
They enter their details into the form. The prospect gets the tool delivered via email and the corporate finance company gets a lead they can nurture.
There are many content offers that work well to capture B2B leads. Templates, formulas, scripts, plans, etc. The key is to deliver real value and provide something that is quick to consume and gives the person consuming the content the progress they’ve been looking for.
The final stage of this journey is about getting your prospect to take action. They’ve crossed the bridge and we now want them to make the decision to become a customer.
Content marketing plays an important role here. At this stage you can concentrate on sales. Just make sure to keep your message focused on how you can help your prospect rather than all about you.
Talk about the benefits of your services rather than features.
“What types of content works best for B2B business sales?” I hear you ask.
Case studies are really effective. For example, “How we helped company X achieve Y”.
Video sales letter (VSL), product/service video and webinars are also great content pieces for acquisition.
You could also consider a page on your site with an application form to work with your company.
For B2B marketing, there are three critical elements you need to cover. These are: content strategy, content production and content promotion.
Not to be confused with tactics, your content strategy will be your roadmap to follow.
Your starting point is your audience. You need to have a deep understanding of your customer’s problems and how your service solves them.
You need to create content pillars based on your customers’ pain points.
Content pillars serve as a guide for every piece of content you create and should be mapped back to specific steps in your customer’s journey.
Research your competitors benchmarking current performance vs the top competition in your vertical.
This will provide you with guidance on the digital platforms your customers are on (and where you should be too) and the content types you need to focus on (written, video, audio, white paper, etc).
Before you start, its also good practice to perform a content audit reviewing your business’s past content with the aim of updating, improving or repurposing it for future use.
From our experience partnering with B2B companies, we find this to be one of the areas where campaigns fall flat.
Getting content created consistently, without sacrificing quality, is a huge challenge.
Aside from the time investment required to produce high quality content, the other stumbling block we often come across is business not knowing where to start OR what to write.
That’s why we’ve created something to help you.
It’s called The 12 month B2B content planner.
You’ll be able to use the framework in the template to map out an entire year’s worth of strategic content and website pages that will help drive more traffic, leads and sales for your business.
Every piece of content you produce needs to be promoted. If you miss this step then your content is just words floating on a page.
We operate a pretty traditional approach to content promotion and would recommend you do the same too. The framework is: owned, earned and paid media.
Owned channels include:
Paid channels include:
Earned channels include:
Before we sign off, here is a pitfall you must avoid.
The most valuable currency online (if not the world) is attention. It’s never been easier to reach your dream prospects but it’s never been harder to get, keep and leverage their attention.
People live boring lives. Constantly scrolling through Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram, they are wanting to be entertained and inspired.
To capture their attention you need to stand out, not blend in. Excite them, thrill them, hit their curiosity button – connect with them on an emotional level. You want to leave your prospective customers wanting more.
Content marketing is hard. We know, because it took us years of trial and error to figure out the winning formula for B2B business.
It’s not enough to just create one blog post or video each month. You need a plan to attract prospects, nurture them and turn them into paying customers.
The problem is often knowing where to start.
The 12 month Content Plan is the solution…to all of this! This expert framework will allow you to map out an entire year’s worth of strategic content and website pages to help drive more traffic, leads and sales for your business.
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